Andrew MacLean

Kenya Grace Is No Stranger To The Stage

Music Scene Media
Dec 17, 2023
5 min read

The Drake is a hotel in downtown Toronto that was built back in 1890. Originally named Small’s Hotel, and renamed to The Drake in 1949, the hotel itself has a vast history stretching over 130 years. In the basement of The Drake is a concert stage dubbed as The Drake Underground with a capacity to hold a maximum of 200 people. This stage has seen the likes of M.I.A., Billie Eilish and Beck. Tonight the stage was open for Kenya Grace, and her support act, Ari Hicks.

Ari Hicks, who debuted in 2020, is a Toronto native, and was asked by Kenya Grace to open both her 6pm and 9pm shows at The Drake. Taking the stage shortly after doors open, her and her two band members accompanying her for the evening wasted no time getting into their musical zone and straight into their set. Opening her performance with her song “Sucker”, the drums were pounding, the guitar were ripping, and Ari was serving vocals. I personally hadn’t heard of Ari Hicks’ music before the show, but after watching her make her way around the stage, I definitely wanted to dive deeper into her catalogue. With fun upbeat tunes, performing other songs of hers like “Romeo Dies”, and “Criminal”, she kept the crowd entertained, and moving, warming them up for Kenya’s main set.

Half an hour after Ari Hicks bowed out, Kenya took to the stage. Kenya Grace is a self-written, and produced artist, similar to the likes of Kate Bush. Garnering over 375 million streams with her song “Strangers”, even topping the charts in Great Britain at number one and being featured in over 290,000 TikTok videos, at such a young age, she has greatly succeeded.


Kenya stood behind a table that had her laptop, a mixing board, and a microphone stand stretching across the table. She smiled and introduced herself to the crowd, mentioning that this was her very first time performing in Toronto, and wasted no time getting into her opening song “After Party Lover”. Kenya mixed her own tracks live, while also singing them, her voice soft, almost like a warm hug, complimented her instrumental tracks perfectly. There was no pause between each song like at a standard show when an artist finishes one song before going into the next, instead Kenya would mix them and seamlessly transition into the next track. “After Party Lover”, transitioned into her song, “Paris” which is easily one of my favourites from Kenya. An interesting take too that I enjoyed was Kenya would describe her thought and work process on each song before performing them so the audience could understand her feelings and background to each track.


Later into her set after performing songs such as “Sad” and “Only In My Mind”, Kenya spoke to the crowd saying that she wrote all of these songs at home in her bedroom, and never thought she’s ever be on stage touring, performing her songs for people around the world. With the venue being such a small tight knit area, fans could easily speak to Kenya and she would respond. She is a very humble and kind person, and interacted with as many fans as she could during her set. Continuing on, Kenya performed her own rendition of Oliver Tree’s song “Miss You”, before entering her final song of “Strangers”.


Before embarking the stage, Kenya performed a DJ mixed outro of “Strangers”, thanking the crowd for coming out to see her, and let everyone know not to leave too soon, as she was going to come out and meet as many audience members as she could. A great show from such a brilliant artist. Keep Kenya Grace on your radar, I do believe this is just the beginning of amazing and huge things to come for her.


You can follow Kenya Grace and Ari Hicks on Instagram below:

Ari Hicks: Instagram

Kenya Grace: Instagram

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